Superman: Doomsday Blu-ray Review
PictureSuperman: Doomsday comes to Blu-ray presented with a solid 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. As animated shows go it looks simply superb - although there are inherent limitations with any 2-dimensional offering. Detail is strong throughout, the lines bold and solid, never fractured by the frame rate or rendition and allowing the character designs to come across clearly throughout. The colour scheme is also bold and vibrant, truly patriotic with its bright reds and blues, but with fairly authentic blood and colourful explosions which light up the screen. Blacks are dark and solid, allowing for decent night-set action and shadowing. I never really noticed any significant problems with this presentation - it looks pretty damn good - and proves once again that animated movies can still hold their own visually.
SoundUnfortunately, after such a superb effort on the visual front, Warner appears to lose focus on the audio side, providing us with nothing more than a standard - and thus extremely limited - Dolby Digital 5.1 track. As it is, the TV-spawned animated movie format is not exactly brimming with potential, but they could have done a better job at bringing it to our living rooms. Nevertheless dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, presented largely from across the fronts and centre channels, with Adam Baldwin's Superman, Anne Heche's Lois and James Marsters' Lex all being given their own distinctive place on the track. The effects are a bit of a let-down because, despite some really ferocious battles - with tanks exploding, people punched into buildings or ground-pounded into the pavement - it seldom ignites your ears, merely accompanying the movie and never really enhancing it. The score has its moments, bathed in absolute cheesy patriotic anthems, but still one of the more memorable aspects of a fairly mundane track.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length Audio Commentary by Producer Bruce Timm, Writer Duane Capizzi, Voice Director Andrea Romano and Executive Producer Gregory Novak, who offer up a fairly self-congratulatory discussion on the production, from inception to the end result, although they appear to be too busy praising their piece of art to discuss the flaws and the difficulties that are unavoidable if you try and cram so many important, extensive storylines into such a short runtime.
The Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives! Documentary runs at nearly 45 minutes in length and takes a detailed look at the source material - the key stories that provided the foundation for this movie, the risk that DC took running the original story (it wasn't much of a risk, more like an effective, extended publicity stunt), its impact, popularity and subsequent acclaim. If only the producers had paid as much respect to the material with their final cut, as is apparent from this Documentary, then maybe the end result would have been much more substantial. When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman Doomsday is a half-hour Behind the Scenes Featurette discussing the ins and outs of this production, from the animation to the voice direction and casting, with offerings from all those involved, albeit presented - once again - in a slightly promotional kind of way. The Clash of the Juggernauts Featurette takes a quarter of an hour to look at the epic confrontations and the characters therein, and the Behind the Voice Featurette spends a paltry 5 minutes with the voice cast who worked on the project.
We also get Bruce Timm's personal Top 4 Superman: The Animated Series Episodes, including quite a good two-parter clash with Darkseid, but also a terrible episode with that annoying leprechaun villain who was one of Superman's more comedy opponents (it was like Superman versus Elmer Fudd). Still, they make for a nice extra for viewers to work through, perhaps even as a good taste of what to expect should they pick up any of the complete seasons. Finally we get preview footage of both the new Wonder Woman animated movie and Justice League: The New Frontier.
VerdictOne of the biggest landmarks in comic-book history, the clash between Superman and Doomsday (and the aftermath) should have made for great entertainment, whether in a live-action film or an animated offering like this one. Unfortunately, stripping the material down, condensing it beyond comprehension and reforming it to remove some of the most important aspects of the original tale resulted in a ridiculously short, uninvolving affair which will more than likely disappoint both fans and newcomers alike. Aside from some visual punch and a slightly more mature theme than you would normally expect from the Man of Steel, this is a tawdry chapter in the animated universe. On Blu-ray the video rendition looks superb but the audio cannot keep up, although with a few nice extras to round off the disc it will likely be lapped up by fans who have enjoyed this movie. Newcomers, as already stated, should maybe start their animated superhero appreciation elsewhere.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.98
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